Record number of Hawai‘i high school students earn college degrees from UH


University of Hawaiʻi
Daniel Meisenzahl, (808) 348-4936
Spokesman, Director, UH Office of Communications
Kelli Abe Trifonovitch, (808) 228-8108
Director of Communications and Outreach, University of Hawai‘i System
Posted: May 15, 2018

Waipahu High School senior Rovy Anne Dipaysa participated in commencement at Leeward CC on May 11.
Waipahu High School senior Rovy Anne Dipaysa participated in commencement at Leeward CC on May 11.

Link to video and sound (Hawai‘i CC and Leeward CC commencements):

Fifteen public high school students from across the state earned college degrees from University of Hawai‘i campuses in spring 2018, before their high school graduations, through the Early College program.  One student already earned her degree from Leeward Community College in fall 2017.

Early College collaborations between UH and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education, offer the opportunity for students to take college courses at their high schools and simultaneously earn credit toward both high school and college diplomas. UH also has an Early College collaboration with Kamehameha Schools.  This past school year (2017-18), 270 Early College classes were being offered by UH at 40 public high schools and charter schools across the state, and more then 375 classes are planned for next school year.

“Taking early college classes is a great investment in the future.,” said Craig Okahara-Olsen, who received his associate in arts degree from Hawaiʻi Community College through the Early College program a couple of weeks before his high school graduated from Waiākea High School.  “It was a big journey for me and being here now, I hope I can go forward with this opportunity and inspire others across my community.”

Early College started at Waipahu High School in 2012 as a joint project with Leeward Community College, with funding from the McInerny Foundation.  On Friday, May 11, 13 Early College graduates (12 from Waipahu High School and one from Wai‘anae High School) who had taken classes taught by faculty from Leeward CC or UH West O‘ahu walked the line at Leeward CCʻs commencement ceremony.

“Participating in Early College is one of the best ways we have found to increase the probability of high school students going to college and then persisting from their first year to their second," said UH President David Lassner.  “It is particularly effective in improving college participation among low-income and under-represented groups.”

Hawai‘i P–20 Partnerships for Education Executive Director Stephen Schatz said,  “As we continue to build Hawai‘i’s future workforce and citizenry, Early College is helping us move us in the right direction to reach our goal of having 55 percent of working age adults in Hawai‘i holding a college degree by 2025.”

Leeward Community College (13  Early College graduates) 

The large number of Leeward Community College graduates is a credit to Waipahu High School’s Early College efforts in collaboration with Leeward CC and UH West O‘ahu. Twelve of the Early College graduates are from Waipahu High School and one is from Wai‘anae High School.

Leeward CC’s most well-known Early College graduate is Waipahu High School student Rovy Anne Dipaysa. On December 7, 2017, the 18-year-old immigrant from the Philippines earned her associate in arts degree from Leeward CC—five months ahead of her May high school graduation. See: 

Hawai‘i Community College (1 Early College graduate) 

Craig Okahara-Olsen earned his associate in arts degree from Hawai‘i Community College a week before he is set to earn his high school diploma from Waiakea High School. Okahara-Olsen is the first Hawai‘i Island student to earn his associate degree through Early College classes taken as a high school student. And he did so with distinction, earning a 4.0 grade-point average in his Hawai‘i CC classes.

Hawai‘i CC began delivering Early College classes at high schools in the 2013-2014 academic year, and the program has grow steadily since. Early College is currently offered at nine Hawai‘i Island high schools. About 600 students take Hawai‘i CC Early College classes each year.

UH Maui College (1 Early College graduate)

Kīhei Charter High School senior Macaleigh Hendricks earned her associate’s degree in liberal arts from UH Maui College through the Early College program.  She is the first to graduate from the program at UH Maui College.

Windward Community College (2 Early College graduates)

Two Early College graduates earned their associateʻs degrees from Windward Community College.  Aaron Garcia is a Castle High School student and Ashlyn Yasuda will graduate from Kailua High School.

Early College Book Scholarship Incentive

The UH Community Colleges have also announced a scholarship opportunity for more than 1,800 Class of 2018 graduates from Hawai‘i public high schools who participated in UH dual credit programs.  The graduates are eligible for a $100 scholarship toward books and supplies when they enroll in a UH community college by June 30.

The scholarship seeks to increase the college going rate of high school graduates who have earned dual credits and to encourage the early registration of those who already plan to attend a UH community college.

To receive the scholarship, the 2018 high school graduates who already have UH credits must enroll at a UH Community College campus, and register for at least 6 credits for fall 2018 by June 30, 2018.


Hawai‘i CC Commencement


(TRT: 40 seconds)

0:00-0:07: wide shot of commencement

0:07-0:31: Craig Okahara-Olsen receiving his diploma

0:31-0:41: Craig Okahara-Olsen with family after the ceremony


Craig Okahara-Olsen – Hawaiʻi CC Early College/Waiakea High graduate (7 seconds)

“It was a big journey and being here now. I hope you know, I can go forward with this opportunity and inspire others across my community.”

Okahara-Olsen (8 seconds)

“I would advise, you know, if youʻre going to take early college classes or if you kids are going to take early college classes, they would be a great investment for you and youʻre going to gain skills that will help you in the future.”

Leeward CC Commencement


(TRT: 34 seconds)

1:00-1:34, 4 clips: Leeward Commencement ceremony

1:34-1:42: Rovy Anne Dipaysa receiving diploma


Rovy Anne Dipaysa, Leeward CC Early College graduate, Waipahu High School Senior
(19 seconds)

“Early College is really important, not only because it helped new immigrants to boost their self-esteem, but then so they help the first generation college students like me that through Early College itʻs possible for us to get a higher education.”

Kureha Pambid - Leeward CC Early College graduate, Wai‘anae High School Senior
(6 seconds)

“I took Psychology 100 and my teacher was so good and I loved that class.”